Breath Loss

(This article is being published in the Anthology of the Military Writers Society of America this month.)

Empty Vessel

Empty Vessel

12 November 2007

 Three years ago today, I held a man as he died. He was stretched out in the operating room like a crucified man, on his back, guts hanging out. I had overwhelming love for this man whom I had just met. I was exhausted from the war, embattled, depressed, and frustrated.

 And yet I could see in the dark murky moments…a sense of light. Edward opened me up to a world I never knew existed. The tear which gently and remarkably escaped his closed eye was a prism of light that flooded my soul. Honestly, I still can’t find the words, thoughts, or song to express what happened, nor what is continually happening to my being.

 As soon as this moment of love, joy, and sorrow broke into that operating room in Fallujah, Iraq, it seemed to slip out in a vanquished moment. How did I get there? Where did part of me go? I also left the room, and I continue to wait for the return of my mind, my spirit, my soul.

 Part of me was killed in action without a trace. My friends and family still look into my eyes and search for the Ron who has yet to return home, and may never return.

 Edward, the corpsman, the nurse, and I are still confined in that cramped little operating room that may no longer even physically exist. But it is there for me. Like a crime scene, the evidence of the destructive force of war and violence is waiting to be discovered and solved, or at least, to be compassionately closed and sealed forever.

 Thank you, Edward, on the anniversary of your death and resurrection, for coursing through my eyes, my writing, my blood, and my soul.

I love you.

Go with God and with Jesus.

You have nothing to fear.

Love: a wonderful joy,

Peace, joy, love,

Ron

[Excerpted from A Tear in the Desert (2010) by Ron Camarda]

 

God shines on us

We begin and end independent life on this beautiful earth with a breath. Along the way, there are times when we literally lose our breath. The loss of breath can be the most joyful, scary, stunning, devastating, spiritual, or exhilarating mystery. People use the term, breathless, to express the inexpressible.

Experiencing the first breath of an infant is an awesome breath loss. But I also remember times when I was a young priest grieving with parents whose child never had a breath to lose. I was also present for William’s last breath at 7 years and Rebecca’s last breath at 8 years. What could I say? How would I cope? Those losses changed my relationship with their parents and my worldview forever. We were experiencing a horrible breath loss! We still are. Holding the last breath, literally and figuratively has become my gift, cross, passion, grief, and vocation.

When I was a boy of three or four years, before I could swim, I would hold my breath when I rode on the back of my father as he plunged beneath the surface of Lake Winnipesaukee. It was a death grip around his neck. If I tapped him on the back, he would surface immediately.  I took pride in holding my breath longer than all my brothers and sisters.  I was joyfully able to be breathless. But there are many times that we do not have that choice.

I remember the time my little brother and I took a trip to the Grand Canyon. After that incredibly long and sometimes contentious drive, Andy (12) and I (22) stood breathless at the edge of the Grand Canyon. Then I foolishly persuaded my brother to hike to the bottom and back in one day. As we started to make our way out of the canyon, I realized that he was in danger of dying. His belabored breathing terrified me. We literally crawled out long past sunset after gut-wrenching vomit, diarrhea, and lying in donkey dung. Another loss we endured was our dignity. That terrifying episode my brother and I endured has become our greatest gain and bond between us to this day.

When I was 40, I was present when my mother whispered, “I love you” to my father as she breathed her last breath. My mother could not eat anything for forty days before she died. She could not even take water the last week. Toward the end, as her prayer group serenaded her in the back yard, my mother complained to me that she was crying, but she had lost her ability to form tears.  I still mourn the loss of her tears and breath.  She could only breathe and whisper those last days, but something deeper was going on in her heart. Those breaths were so important and reverent! Loss of breath is part of the constant change in every human being’s journey. The last words formed by the last breath of all people are very important, if not the most important.

In his book, Helping Grieving People: When Tears Are Not Enough, Shep Jeffreys defines the exquisite witness as a person “who enters the sacred space between two human souls — having the deepest respect for the yearning, seeking, and wishful hopes of the other to diminish pain and survive in a new world after a loss.”

When Jesus of Nazareth, was dying on the cross, he could hardly breathe. The meaning of his life would be lost and meaningless if there had not been at least two exquisite witnesses to hear his final words and breaths. Among those exquisite witnesses was his mother. Not only did Jesus have to die a torturous death, but he had to helplessly watch his mother plunge into utter terror.

The last words of Jesus — “I thirst!” — are placed beside the crucifix wherever the Missionaries of Charity (founded by Mother Teresa of Calcutta) serve. The power of those last words breathed by a dying man almost 2,000 years ago still motivate millions of people and me. I have prayed in those chapels just before witnessing the last breath of the poorest of the poor. My faith encourages me that the divine is present in all people, especially the dying, regardless of nationality, culture, or religious faith.

DSCF5916During my deployment to Iraq in 2004, I learned that Marines and Soldiers can have some really annoying and nasty habits. But when a person is dying, things change. I discover that even my irritation and annoyance melt and change to love. I do not think that we can ever learn enough about the complications and intricacies of loss and bereavement. For me, as a person and as a pastoral counselor, it will be an ongoing conversion both painful and joyful.

Many times, even in war, the breath seems to pour out of the person. I can almost see the loss of breath and soul just as I have seen the loss of blood. I did not believe that I was worthy to be a priest, never mind an exquisite witness. However, I have learned to recognize my gifts and foibles as a calling. In their book When Professionals Weep (2006), Katz and Johnson tell us that “Patients, their subjective experience of their own illnesses, their families, and their worlds — everything, in fact — is irrevocably changed with our entry into the helping relationship.”

When I am around the dying, I am naturally able to help people, to touch the living and the dead with meaning, moisten their lips, sing to them, hold hearts and hands, breathe with them, and say their goodbyes. When I enter their lives, I allow my life to be irrevocably changed.

Countless times throughout my life, and poignantly in Iraq, I have seen with my inner eye how a human soul detaches from the body and rises. Sometimes this loss of soul happens before the last breath and sometimes it happens long after the soldier violently dies in the battle or from a self-inflicted wound.

Sometimes I meet a human being for the first time at their last breaths. Most times I do not realize at the time of death the full impact of God’s need for me to witness the last breath. Later — when I am sharing their beloved’s story and their last breath — parents, family, and friends often surprise me with added meaning to what I thought was unimportant content. My love and care, like a spring that wells up, helps soothe the parched existence of the beloved dying, the beloved grieving, and those who will learn of the last breath of their beloved.

DSCF7548I am beginning to wonder if the many losses that we have, and continue to experience, in this life are preparing us for the loss of our last breath. Shep Jeffreys says often that all loss is like death. Those moments have caused me — and the people who listen to my stories — to be breathless and befuddled with the loss of breath.

I concluded my book, Tear in the Desert, with the letter that appears at the beginning of this article. It reinforces how we caregivers must be prepared to pitch our tent with the people who suffer devastating losses and bereavement. Compassion means “to suffer with.”  I only knew Edward for his last tear and his last breaths in this world, but not a day goes by where his last breaths do not disturb my being.

Grieving my losses of breath throughout my life journey has indeed pushed me in new directions, and these directions have resulted in some good and some bad days…and an acknowledgement of my gift of loss.

Still breathless and still touched by my breath loss!

Father Ron Moses CamardaBravo-Surgical

WHAT HAPPENED?!

April 5, 2012 ~ Holy Thursday ~ Atlantic Beach

 

I flew into Jacksonville seven years ago today. I returned from a gruesome battle in Iraq. I did not feel welcome by my church or by my community. That big sign over the entrance, “Welcome Home,” was hollow for me. Of course this was my perception and may have had nothing to do with reality.

ImageImageImage 

I could not find my home.

Here I am, still alone, a little lonely and no community I can call my own.

Physically and mentally I am really fine.

Even spiritually I am invigorated.

 

But I am experiencing being forgotten, just like Joseph after his brothers sold him into slavery and lied to their father that he was torn apart by wild beasts. Yes, of course I know that Joseph eventually forgave his brothers, and he knew in his heart that if they had not sold him and treated him so badly, they would have all perished. And maybe there is something of truth in my situation. However, as I go through this very difficult time, I know I must go alone and love those who may be persecuting me. Jesus on the cross says over and over, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.” I pray I have the wisdom and courage to do so.

 

In many ways, I have been forgotten and discarded.

The people of God need something I have, but they don’t know it.

O Jesus, my God, my Father, my Friend and my Beloved

You came to bring us home but no one saw it,

…not even your closest friends and apostles

 

All that I need in this world is You alone

Nothing else will satisfy my longing

For justice, freedom and mercy

For wisdom, courage and comfort

For healing, wholeness and new life

 ImageImage

I thirst and pant for you, Jesus

I hunger for your body and love

Fill my soul with your light and love

Inebriate my being with your blood

Calm my terror and fear

Let me hear you say,

“Do not be afraid!”

 

Pope John Paul II died seven years ago on Divine Mercy Sunday.

I was flying to Haiti just ten days after I arrived home

I was still at the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy, only a teenager

 when he was announced as the Pope to follow John Paul I

I learned of it in the small chapel and then saw him at Shea Stadium

 

It seems that my body is always traveling since then:

            Apartheid in South Africa

            Military coup in Liberia

Israel and the Dome of the Rock, Wailing Wall, and Holy Sepulcher

Watching the Exorcist in Italian

Korea and Panama

Hawaii and dashed dreams of marriage and family

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Benedictine Monks

Japan, Hong Kong, Thailand

Hiroshima

Murderers and a court martial

Project Rachael

Australia, Puerto Rico and Cuba

Fatima and Rome

Haiti, Honduras, Bahamas and the Poor

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Marines

The Poor in Spirit

Stewardship and International Conference and presentations

A horrific war in between the Tigris and Euphrates River

 

I am so unworthy, but here I am as your beloved

All I have is Jesus, Saint Augustine and ecstasy

O Jesus

O Father

O Mother

O my

Give me strength, courage and wisdom to endure my cross with dignity and love

Show me your wounds

May my wounds touch Your wounds

Allow me to walk with You

on this terribly and frightening Dark Night

Give me rest and food so I may lead your people home

Call me into our sacred wounds

 

I long to help you carry your cross, if only for a moment

 

Jesus ~ I am terrified and scared and yet hope is firm

            I love you

            I trust you

            I believe in you

            I need you

 

And You whisper into my heart and soul:

 

            “Ron Moses, I need you too.

            You are my beloved son, brother, friend and lover…my beloved”

 

Forgive me for doubting your mercy and touch,

so sweet and healing

Here I am…always…and in all ways

Show me the Way

            wow and o my

You have shown me the depths of your love.

I glimpse your smile and handsome beauty.

 

Good Friday ~ Morning ~ April 6, 2012 ~Queen of Peace rectory

 

Last night I proclaimed the Gospel

Jesus stripped himself and washed feet

The power in my voice came from God alone

            I was merely an instrument

I am called to do the same as everyone else is…

…to wash feet

 which in reality means to

cure the sick

raise the dead

drive out demons

and cleanse lepers

Be Good NewsImageImage

Holy Saturday and Easter Vigil ~ Moon Rising!

 

Not feeling well enough to go to the Easter Vigil at the church

The Easter Vigil came to me!

Moon rose at 9:11

Exhausted mentally, physically and spiritually

I rode my bike to the beach

Binoculars in hand…the moon filled my view

She looked like the Bloody Eucharist…Body and Blood

“Go tell them Ron Moses! Tell them I Am alive!”

 Image

 

Love, Joy, Peace…and Alleluia

Father Ron Moses +

HOLY, HOLY, HOLY: Enter into Holy Week!

Geranium Birth

Breathe in…
Breathe out…

I remember as a young boy practicing to serve at the Masses for Holy Week. It was a time to be in the present. I loved Holy Week. It was as if the whole world stopped. I didn’t really understand what was going on. The mystery of the whole week was exhilarating.

I have been reading all the stories about people who get real live bunnies for Easter. Once Easter is over, they want to return the bunny when they realize how much patience and care is needed. Although we don’t always understand what Holy Week requires of us in the year to come, we can’t return our Holy Week.

Seeking the Holy

I have been part of Holy Week services for over 40 years. Each one is so unique and challenging. I usually write a poem on Holy Thursday evening as the night crashes into Good Friday. I found my journal from 1994 when I was in Fuji Japan in the field with the Grunt Marines. It snowed and rained on Passion Sunday and Holy Week seemed quite unholy. I was miserable. However, my soul rejoiced and we ended up celebrating Easter Sunday under the cross below Mount Fuji as the sun was rising.

Holy, holy, holy

Good Friday

I think I know why
I am so far from home
even though I feel at home
The same Cross
And the beautiful children of God.

Good Friday

Steve Gammon, a minister of the Congregational Church
a person of God
a holy man
We shared in the empty chapel
stripped of everything
yet Christ still present
We shared how we reluctantly but willingly
ended up here in the wilderness per say

Then out to the field with Kilo Company about noon
They have been out since Palm Sunday
when we read the Passion of Mark’s Gospel together
This time there were many more men as we proclaimed John’s
I could only watch in awe
as you Lord drew them with cords of love
You, O Loving Yahweh, called them home
I became your instrument
and you blew through me
your life, your love
We were moved ~
inspired by your Son
Mount Fuji was spectacular
as was the open field and warm gentle breeze
You taught us and showed us how to be a little bit more loving
Praise You!
You indeed pitch your tent among
Us
Always
Wherever
Forever
I believe in You
Love Almighty
Creator of All
Breath of Life!

An evening service in the light of, and below the Cross
on which hung your Beloved Son

Forgive them


Who gave his life.
We heard the passion
Walked the Way of the Cross
And felt your loving embrace
We touched and knelt, kissed and bowed to your Cross
Jesus, you go a little further than we can and that is cool.

So here I sit after the service,
in the field with fifty or so in this chapel
with 25 or so and a rosary
It was this afternoon around three.
Once again you have shown your goodness and love and light upon me
Your majesty reaches to the ends of the earth,
even to the stones and trees
that seemed to praise you on my later afternoon run

I hear your words once again

“I have loved you with an everlasting love,
I have called you and you are mine.
I have loved you with an everlasting love
I have called you and you are mine.”
And I have burned in my heart at your presence.
Goodnight Holy Spirit
Goodnight Jesus.
Goodnight My Beloved!
Ron Moses +

God shines on us

May your Holy Week be the Best Ever.
May your heart rejoice in Our Beloved God of All Creation.

Love, joy, peace,
Father Ron +

Here comes the Joy!

Living Veterans

Even though November is the month when we remember those who have died, there is something to be said about the living. Memorial Day is when we remember all Veterans whom have died. On the other hand, Veterans Day (November 11) is a time to remember and honor all Veterans who live after serving, precisely because they have lived.

Once a veteran, always a veteran. All veterans take an oath similar to a marriage covenant. Divorces or annulments of their status as a veteran are almost unheard of. In fact many veterans are the fiercest fighters for the end of all wars and for abiding peace, precisely because they are committed to protecting their beloved country against all enemies foreign or domestic. (even if the enemy is within our souls)

“I, a Veteran of the United States of America, promise to be faithful to you, My Beloved Country, in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health. I will honor and love you all the days of my life.”

Lately I have been struggling with my next book, TEAR IN MY SOUL, which is an attempt to discover the truth and flesh of our souls. I have journeyed and written in my journals since I graduated from the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy over 30 years ago. I have written about that sacred time just before death of hundreds of people. That is probably the reason that all the doors opened for me to be called to serve with the Marines in Iraq against all odds. God knew I would be a great witness to these astonishing living moments before death. I have been doing it most of my life.

Susi Pittman raises and attempts to answer the question about whether animals are in heaven. In the weeks and maybe months ahead, I thought it would be worth sharing about people I believe are in Heaven. I have loved them all and I truly don’t believe that I could ever outdo God in compassion and love. Hang on as we take this incredible journey together to discover a tear or two in our souls if we glimpse a loved one in heaven.

In honor of Veteran’s Day, this story comes from my time as a parochial vicar at St. Catherine’s in Orange Park. I had been called to lead a funeral service for a Veteran who wasn’t attached to any particular church. Who am I to judge?

Maurice

What do I know about Maurice except that he died August 3, 1998?
Maurice was a sailor and soldier, a husband, father, brother, grandfather and son.
He lived 76 years
He must have been a friend and an acquaintance
The sea is magical and peaceful
I know the touch of a sunrise or sunset at the core of my being
Those who sail on the seas or deploy know the longing,
for the source of the breathless celestial transits,
for the mystery of the loneliness
the desire for loved ones
the need for home
even when home is somewhat broken
Veterans know the camaraderie of a troop or battalion or ship
the fall of a shipmate or death of a buddy
All these are part of living
If we always waited for the trip, voyage or deployment to end or the hump to cease,
we may never live the life we were given
If our only goal in life were to make it
to Eagle Scout or Scout Master or CEO,
how empty would be the journey?
the adventure?
the voyage of eternity?
Maurice, Dad, Granddad, Friend…
We will meet you in the moments,
the breaking of our hearts

and in the remembering of the voyage
Sail on!
March on!
Right on!

God bless our Veterans. Let’s pray for lasting peace only Jesus can give us. After the Battles of Gethsemane, Golgotha and Death, Jesus stood before us even though the doors were locked and said, “Peace be with you.” And then he showed them his hands and sides. At the sight of the Lord the disciples rejoiced? He said it again, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” And then he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive each other’s sins, they are forgiven. If you hold them bound, then they will remain bound.”

Love, joy, peace,

Father Ron Moses +

BATTLE FOR FALLUJAH

Battle for Fallujah

7 November 2004 Phantom Fury- Vigil

Here I am, somehow caught up in this battle in the desert. Our President believes it is specifically to conquer terrorism and the evil forces of the enemy. He truly believes God is on his side. I don’t think terrorism will ever be conquered. It is like trying to eliminate hatred. Brothers have been hating brothers since the beginning of the human race. It is part of us. God help us.

10,000 troops from the United States of America are staged here in Fallujah. We say this is a coalition force. I see American troops, some Iraqi troops but hardly any troops from other countries.

I am the Catholic priest at Bravo Surgical. I am the only Catholic priest here. The injured and the “Angels,” or the dead, funnel through here.

Surgeons, doctors, nurses, corpsmen and Marines are staged and ready. Bravo Surgical has a motto: “Cheaters of Death.” We are moving to say instead, “Ready to Receive.” We have already experienced quite a few casualties.

This whole thing is bloody and confusing. If an enemy insurgent arrives whose injuries are slightly worse than an American’s…we must treat the insurgent first. O how I want to go home, yet I am dragged into this mess. I want to run away like Jonah. I know God will prevail. I know God is planning something beautiful. I don’t fear death.

St. Ambrose: Office of Readings

“Death” in this context is a Passover to be made by all mankind. You must keep facing it with perseverance. It is a Passover from corruption, from mortality to immortality, from rough seas to a calm harbor. The word “death’ must not trouble us; the blessings that come from a safe journey should bring us joy. What is death but the burial of sin and the resurrection of goodness? Scripture says: “Let my soul die among the souls of the just,” so that I may cast off my sins and put on the grace of the just, of those who bear the death of Christ with them, in their bodies and in their souls.

Saint Paul to Timothy in his second letter (2:11-12):

Here is a saying you can depend on: If we have died with
him, we shall also live with him; if we suffer with him,
we shall also reign with him.

God was preparing me for what was to come.

10 & 11 November Phantom Fury: Al Fajr

Two Marines were in serious trouble. I had planned to go to bed but decided to hang around. I am almost deliriously tired. In fact, I may be too tired to cry. Even my tears feel dry and lonely. Gene and Joseph were in Trauma Beds One and Two. At first, there were too many people in the room. And then I saw their dog tags, both of which said, ‘Roman Catholic.’ I love the Church, especially the notion that at the moment of death, we can shout, “I am Catholic! I want my Father!” How can I be Father? I’ve not raised these boys, yet at the moment of need, they beg for strength, courage and the life of Our Father; “You O Lord! Father, Dad, Beloved!”

“I can’t do it!” I shout to God in the core of my being.
“You can do it!” God shouts back to me.

O no Jesus! They must let go of everything! I believe, I believe, I believe! But they don’t always believe. It seems they must be taught in the fleeting moments woven with terror and fear…your love. Their last contact with this wretched world needs to be love.

Gene’s friends were hovering as the docs and nurses searched for fragments of his life. However, I didn’t know they were his friends. I didn’t know this Marine was a member of Bravo Surgical just a few months ago. How would I know this? I moved away from Gene when I read his eyes…his body would no longer hold onto his soul. The tattooed dragon on his right shoulder would remain until his skin was no more, but Gene was moving forward. God promised. God is faithful. Today you will be with me in paradise.

Gene passed out after I anointed him, and I moved to Joseph in Trauma Bed Two. Joseph was the son of Monica. I encouraged Joseph to breathe in and out. Joseph was getting cold, and I stood near his head. It seemed my place was reserved, yet I didn’t understand. O Jesus, I didn’t know what to do. Somehow, I felt so inadequate, like I didn’t know what I was doing. The stones covering our hearts are so terrifyingly big.

The most important matters in my life at this moment were saying the Jesus prayer and teaching Joseph to breathe. Here I was, coaching again. I rubbed Joseph’s head, held his hand, searched for ways to warm him, and encouraged him with whispers. He was so thirsty, and I couldn’t give him anything. I desperately wanted to give him a drink, but he was going into surgery. I felt ill-prepared for this. I felt I hadn’t fasted or sacrificed enough for my prayers to be answered. The doctors cut Gene’s side to massage his heart. He couldn’t breathe, so I returned to him. My words were jumbled…they are for the living…I knew Gene would die…yet I said nothing…I couldn’t…Help me to understand!!!!!

Joseph was then moved into the operating room…and I carried things that needed to be moved, and I found myself in the room. I talked to Joseph all the way but not before seeing the doctors were letting Gene go.

I left the operating room and returned to the trauma room as Gene’s face was being covered. I rushed into the room silently saying, “No!” I held his head in my hands that break the sacred bread of the Body and Blood of Jesus…and I prayed; I don’t know what…
I prayed the prayer attached to Gene’s dog tags that also stated he was Roman Catholic:

Dear Lord Jesus, I realize I am a sinner. I repent for my sins and right this moment I receive you as my Lord and Savior. Amen. I will be strong and courageous. I will not be terrified, or discouraged for the Lord is with me Wherever I go!

I bent down and kissed Gene’s forehead. I truly loved him even though I had just met him. Later, with Mortuary Affairs Marines and with his friends, I prayed and then sang.
Into your hands O Lord, we commend the Body and Soul of + Gene Ramirez. If God is for us, who can be against us? Give us rest O Lord!

* Joseph Heredia died in Germany ten days later, on November 20. I didn’t hear the news until over a year later as I was writing this book at Prince of Peace Monastery in Oceanside, California. I really loved this kid and expected him to make it. My heart breaks for his poor mother, Monica. Please lift her up in prayer.

TEAR IN THE DESERT on EWTN

"Final Journey"

Final Journey

Semper Fi!

This is hard work keeping up with a blog. Anyways, the TV special TEAR IN THE DESERT that was scheduled for Memorial Day never made it because of scheduling conflicts with the Pope in Cyprus. St. Teresa always says that God had a better plan. EWTN has scheduled the 30 minute special for JUNE 5th at 6 PM (EST). This is better because it is the eve of the feast of THE BODY AND BLOOD OF JESUS.

The show begins with me in front of the tabernacle of Our Belvoed Jesus. I speak of Edward who reminded me of the sacrificial lamb. With the segment of Christmas in Fallujah, I place the Body of Christ in the grubby battlescarred hands of a Marine teenager. Yes, God has a better plan. Please pass this on.
Love ya,
Father Ron

TEAR IN THE DESERT

Alex C December 27 at 11:58am
Fr. Ron,

I wanted to share a story with you.

I have known you for several years when you have spent time at QOP, Gainesville. I have come to admire you and Fr. Jeff tremendously. I think that it is your enthusiasm for being priests, and your love of God.

I took a class with you earlier this year, about stewardship. I bought a couple of books from you and I asked you to dedicate one to my father for his birthday. My father is a Marine and was very proud of it. I sent the book to my father as a birthday gift. I asked him to read it and I wrote him a note describing you and my reaction to this beautiful book you wrote.

My father sent me a note later in the year. I remember being shocked because it this day and age, who takes the time to write letters anymore. It was nice to see his written words on paper. This is the Note:
El Paso, Texas
March 31, 2009
Hi Ale! (my Dad calls me Ale)
What a treasure! Father Camarda’s book is a magnificent treasure indeed. It made my day, although reading it brought tears and a deep reflection into what is truly important in our lives compared to the tragic superficiality and the hedonism that seems to surround us today. Father Camarda homes in on what should be our most important preoccupation: our courageous encounter with the lord when we are called out of this world.
Imagine what this world (or rather) our society would be if more men (and here I mean, not just mere males) would read and be touched by “Tears in the Desert”?
I am very happy that you met Father Camarda, for I know that you, my son are a very good son with a strong and loving heart, kind, cheerful, child like, and a little crazy, and Fr. Camarda, the “Padre” can be an excellent mentor and spiritual director for you.
Please give him my thanks for dedicating his book to me, but most importantly for his awe inspiring service as a catholic Chaplin to our country and to the people of God- especially the ones whom he tenderly touched. Thank him for his dedication and work to the kingdom of God here on earth. May the Lady of Lourdes bless him and protect him always. And may she protect you always from harm.

Your Dad

Two weeks later I received an e-mail from him, which was beautifully written, concerning an episode I had earlier in the year I had, where I truly feel I had a conversation with God. (That is another story, and I am not crazy…) My father died suddenly this past may, and these were the last real communications I had with him. I have come to understand my fathers imperfections, and admire how everyday he strove to be a good man, in spite of them.

I pass on this message, with tears in my eyes, from him to you. And I ask you to pray for my mother, and my family.

If your ever in Gainesville, with some spare time, I would like to take you out to eat. Let me know.

God Bless you Padre,
Merry Christmas
Alex C

Happy Birthday US Navy Chaplain Corps!

I just returned from the 234th Anniversary of the United States Navy Chaplain Corps at Naval Station Mayport Florida. It was great to catch up with a few chaplains I served with in Puerto Rico, Okinawa, Fallujah, Camp Pendleton, and the Naval Hospital. The chaplain Corps History slide show was very moving to see some great chaplains who laid down their lives for us like Father Cappadano and Father Emil Kapaun.

I especially remember Father John Newton, USN, CHC, CDR, who died in February. He was the first priest to move from the ambo and preach in front of us when he was the Chaplain at the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy. He inspired me to become a priest and stayed friends with me thoughout the last 31 years until he died last February in Hawaii. I really miss him. He was the priest who would come into our dorms late at night or on a lonely weekend and just be our Father. He was the Padre for all of the midshipmen, and in some ways, more for those who weren’t Catholic.

So this is how we did our Toasting:

The Commander in Chief
THe United States Navy
The United States Marine Corps
The United States Coast Guard
The Untied States Army
The United States Air Force
The Navy Chaplain Corps
The POWs/MIA
The Deployed Service Members
Our Fallen Shipmates

Then we had The Cutting of the Cake
Blessing of the Dinner

and then we closed with the Singing of the Navy Hymn followed by Benediction.

Eternal Father, strong to save,
Whose arm hath bound the resltless wave,
Who biddest the mighty ocean deep
Its own appointed limits keep
O hear us when we cry to thee
For those in peril on the sea

Eternal Father, grant we pray
To all Marines both night and day
The courage, nonor, strength and skill
Their land to serve, Thy law fulfill
Be Thou the shield for evermore
From every peril to the Corps

God bless those who keep the watch while we sleep in peace.
Vocati ad Servituum
Called to Serve!

TEAR IN THE DESERT (TV Special)

Tear in the Desert is being blessed and a living book. The story is truly the story of how millions of people’s lives are changing for ever…and with great joy, healing and hope. On November 11th, Veteran’s Day, a TEAR IN THE DESERT (TV Special) will be broadcast on EWTN and CATHOLIC TV Boston. This was produced and directed by Christian Peschken http://www.christianpeschken.com and the music was created and performed by Keith Moore. Fallen Angels Fly and Prizes for Peace were written and performed for the book by Keith in his garage studio.

When Our Blessed Mother gave birth to Jesus in basically a barn with animals, it turned out to be an incredible blessing. Poor Mother Mary was asked to do the toughest job ever given in birthing and raising the Son of God. And she was given very little. As Susi Pittman launches her humble book, Animals in Heaven? Catholics want to know this month; I sense that God hasn’t given her book or my book a whole lot to accomplish this job and ministry In some ways, we feel like we are in a humble barn. And yet, I believe that God sent us a number of angels to watch over us and protect us. This is all God’s work. We are just the pencils in God’s hand. Hallelujah!

Another gift in the manger has entered my life. I introduce to you W. Keith Moore, a gifted musician and passionate songwriter centered on the Eucharist. God has brought this man into my life in a way that only God can and today we are united for a very special moment in time to serve the Beloved.

Keith sent me this e-mail last week. God has brought us together to get the word out. God is Love! We are God’s Beloved!

I encourage all of you to visit Keith’s web site http://www.wkeithmoore.com and get to know Keith and his inspired, mystical music! He writes from his soul and in truth. His music is incredible! I listened to his albums SOUL and BELOVED and wept. Most of his songs seem to have been written and married to the book, Tear in the Desert even before he read the book or knew of it.

Be blessed and have wonderful times filled with gratitude for God’s gift of creation!
Love, joy, peace,
Father Ron +

From: W. Keith Moore
> Subject: Tear in the Desert

Date: Monday, November 2, 2009, 10:50 AM

Lord willing, if all goes well, over the next year
a film will begin production called Tear in the Desert.
After my appearance on “The Journey Home” i received
hundreds of emails from around the world.
In fact, even after 3 months i still feel the
ripples in the pond. But one email was from a man named
Christian Peshkin. Christian is film producer. He had
purchased the rights to a book written by Navy Chaplin Fr.
Ron Moses Camarda called Tear in the Desert. Fr.
Ron Moses Camarda had spent 9 months in Fallujah in 2004.
This was the most brutal 9 months of the war. Fr. Camarda
had also seen my hour on “The Journey Home”. He
sent me the book and the inspiration began. They had been
to my site, listened to my music, and felt confident i was
meant to do the music for the film! WOW! i am humbled and
excited. i have written 10 songs for the project. The plan
at the moment is for the next W. Keith Moore album/CD to be